There was drama in the coalition on Sunday morning 8 Kislev, hours before Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was planning to submit his resignation from the cabinet in protest over Israel Railways Chilul Shabbos.
The coalition was to advance two Shabbos-related bills in the Ministerial Law Committee, but it now appears this will not occur, a retaliation for Litzman’s resignation. Senior Likud officials are refusing to sign to permit the bills to advance to the committee Sunday as planned, fearing it will appear they are once again acquiescing to the chareidi parties in Knesset. Senior Likud officials have instructed the committee chair, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, not to advance the items on the agenda.
One bill gives broad powers to the Interior Ministry vis-à-vis Shabbos enforcement, which would permit the ministry, which is controlled by Shas, to address grocery stores operating in Tel Aviv on Shabbos. The second to amend the Hours or Work and Rest Law, which was presented in two versions, the government’s and Minister of Labor Chaim Katz.
The Justice Ministry is working to amend the legislation to permit Litzman to serve as a deputy health minister with ministerial authority, as he did in the past. That situation however was deemed illegal by the High Court of Justice, compelling Litzman to join the government in an exceptional move. However, the ministry now wishes to pass legislation that will bypass the High Court’s ruling and permit a return to the situation that existed for many years, permitting one to serve as a deputy minister with ministerial authority, without anyone filling the minister’s post.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)